On March 15, five missionaries representing the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention were traveling by car to conduct relief efforts in Mosul, Iraq. Without warning, the vehicle was assaulted by automatic weapon fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The car was torn apart as the gunmen unleashed the barrage; three of the missionaries were killed at the scene.
Then an amazing thing happened. Missionary David McDonnall, despite being mortally wounded, pulled his wife Niki from the wreckage. She had been shot at least 20 times, but was still alive. Desperate to save her life, David got Niki out of the car and to a hospital where she was immediately rushed into surgery.
When Niki awakened about a week later, she learned that her husband had not survived. His last effort in his own life was in saving hers.
Christians worldwide launched a massive prayer effort for this young woman (often identified as “Carrie” in media reports because her name has no Iraqi equivalent), and she has now experienced remarkable physical recovery.
On Sunday, Aug. 8, Niki stepped behind the podium at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., to tell how, despite this shocking incident, her heart remains with the people of Iraq. It is the power of the Gospel that allows Christians to experience this type of devastation and then continue in their unconditional faith in Christ.
During these days of escalating terror threats and mounting criticism of Christians who take the Gospel to their fellow man – especially in predominately Muslim nations – it is apparent that God is calling very special people to serve Him throughout our troubled world.
Niki is certainly one of those people, and I believe God is going to greatly use her in the months to come to enlist growing numbers of young people who will answer God’s call to “go.”
Still walking with a cane as she heals from her injuries, Niki observed that Christ also carries several scars.
“My Jesus wears scars on his body from the violence He endured,” she said.
Miraculously, an AK-47 bullet that tore through her jaw did not damage any teeth or nerves in her face, and she can clearly speak.
Niki touched only briefly on her life with David. Her heart’s desire remains with the Iraqi people and with recruiting believers to commit to global missions.
“Along with my broken body, I must deal with a broken heart … and the pain of losing three best friends,” she stated, her voice breaking slightly. She added that she often experiences the feelings of the psalmist who wrote in Psalm 88: “Lord, I cry out to you all day long.”
She then launched into her focus, declaring that many Christians need to get out of their comfort zones and get pro-active about their faith.
“I can’t help but believe that if we truly know Christ, if we truly pursue Christ and we delight in Him,” she said, “I’m pretty sure missionaries wouldn’t have to stand here and tell you that we need to go; it would burn in our hearts. … If we truly saw Christ for who He is and allowed it to make us into Him and to reflect Him, wouldn’t this world be filled with people who mirror Jesus? And the Lord of the Harvest would have a field full of workers that were passionate about making His glory known among the nations.”
Those are terribly powerful words that every Christian should take to heart.
Niki, who is living with her parents while she recovers, added, “I pray that … we would recklessly abandon our lives of ease and that we would pursue Christ and that what we think about our Christ would so penetrate our hearts and lives that the world would see and God would be glorified.”
I have invited Niki to return to Liberty University this fall to speak to our student body. Hundreds of Liberty students have recently accepted God’s call to full-time service in missions. I am praying that Niki will uniquely impact the hearts of many other students here and nationwide. Imagine what God can do with thousands of young people like this young lady who are totally committed to sharing the Gospel with every man, woman, boy and child on this vast globe.
Please join me in praying for Niki and her ministry in the months to come.